Directors at NTT Fundraising, Natalie Bailey and Dave Clark, respond to the allegations made on Channel 4's Dispatches on telephone fundraising.
“If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools"
IF by Rudyard Kipling
We could not find words that better describe the feelings here at NTT. What can we say that can compete with undercover footage? The reporter was in the call room for nearly 85 hours or 5,046 minutes and in all that time they were able to present only a few minutes of negative footage, most of which was of people in non-operational situations and some comments even captured whilst fundraisers were outside the office having a cigarette break! There was not a single positive piece of footage used in the show and yet they showed the same clip of the reporter coming in and out of the building again and again.
It was reassuring to realise that the journalist attended the whole of NTT Fundraising’s new-caller induction, sat through 3.5 days of classroom training, had two formal coaching sessions and received two ad hoc coaching sessions, as well as attended a series of workshops, and was unable to feature a single credible example of wrongdoing from any of this activity. We blanket call-record at NTT and have listened to the calls the undercover reporter made; even their call quality improved during the training – we could have made a fundraiser out of him…
NTT is a modern contact centre with over 100 people making thousands of calls every day. The room is full of amazing fundraisers, good fundraisers and developing ones. Some have been doing the job for decades and some have only just made their first tentative call. With such an incredibly diverse workforce come incredible challenges. There are always going to be a few embarrassing throwaway comments, awkward moments and, in rare cases, shocking behaviour. Our fundraisers are passionate for the causes they represent, their enthusiasm is infectious and overspills at times. While we would never pretend that every fundraiser is perfect, we do strive to ensure that the calls we make are.
Along with our passion and belief in what we do, we also work hard to ensure that we have the credentials in place to support this, including ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and we have completed an ethical employment audit.
We recognise that during the programme there were some comments made that perhaps need clarification:
- We ARE NOT a sales company, and are offended at the intimation. We ARE a fundraising company, a far tougher vocation, and one that requires more exacting standards and far more commitment to quality. It is always disheartening when people fail to understand the difference. Something that we still feel is a key aspect to the way NTT fundraising thinks and acts.
- We DO NOT call back soft refusals – this was incorrectly stated in the programme. Ironically the soft and hard refusal outcome allows us to track the level of engagement supporters show to a particular campaign so we can proactively manage complaints prior to them actually occurring. We have listened to the calls that the reporter was referring to, and it should have been a soft refusal as the call was not ended with any degree of hostility.
- We DO adhere to data protection laws and had we known that NTT’s data procurement process for acquisition campaigns was going to be discussed on national television we would have had someone slightly more credible than a junior fundraiser discussing it. It is an area that we have spent a lot of time working on and is one of the most critical aspects of how we achieve the amazingly low complaint rate that even the show recognised.
- Of course we ARE target-driven – we are an organisation that needs to achieve its targets because our clients rely on us to deliver the income that they need to fulfil their commitments.
- We DO reward great fundraisers and to give some context, the average bonus that is paid across the call room is 3.1 per cent of a caller's monthly wage. To qualify, fundraisers need to excel in their performance and monitoring reviews and exceed their campaign targets as one cannot be recognised without the other. It is not an incentive scheme, or commission, but we do want to reward those who do an amazing job on the campaigns they call. The pay and reward structure was implemented off the back of an ethical employment audit to ensure that we were a fair employer and gave staff opportunities to excel and to progress their careers.
Within 48 hours of the broadcast we had an external, independent auditor here who started a formal investigation of all aspects of how we conduct ourselves as a business supporting the charity sector. The audit is thorough and extensive in its coverage. Once the report is completed it will be made available, and we are confident that it will present a correct view of NTT. We are constantly striving to improve and will therefore implement any changes recommended within the report. In addition we have already identified changes that we can make to further improve NTT and are in the process of rolling these out.
Last year we made 1,250,000 calls and produced fewer than 100 complaints; a ratio that we are exceptionally proud of given the increasingly challenging environment in which we work. We do not make ‘nuisance’ calls - raising money for charity is not a nuisance, it is a necessity.
Natalie and Dave
Proud to be Fundraisers